Saturday, April 20, 2024

10 women on what you need to know when moving to Mexico

Moving to Mexico is incredibly exciting but comes with its own set of challenges. For many of us who have made the move – either full-time or part-time, short-term or long-term – there are likely a plethora of things we wish we had known before the journey, as well as tips and advice we can now offer other women who are considering a life in Mexico. 

Mexico News Daily spoke to ten women who have traded life in their home country for the excitement, beauty and culture of a life in Mexico. From twentysomethings to retirees and sea-seekers to city dwellers, here’s what they had to say. 

Look past your preconceived notions of Mexico to discover the incredible country within. (Kinga Howard/Unsplash)

Escape the Expat Community

“Try not to get stuck in the expat bubble. It’s easy to make only English-speaking friends and stick to areas like Condesa and Roma in Mexico City or Americana in Guadalajara, but is that really why you left your home country?

Practice your Spanish, visit local markets and nightlife spots and make local friends. I promise you, it will open your eyes and show you an entirely new perspective on life in this beautiful country!”

-Elizabeth, 27, [Australian based in] Guadalajara

Patience is a Virtue

The founder of the popular Facebook group Mexico Wild Women Expat Community said, “I am not by nature a patient person. Mexico has taught me the value of being patient and flexible. Being like bamboo is the key to success here. Mexicans have a different sense of time; accept that, and you will be much happier.”

-Wendy, 64, [American based in] Lake Chapala

It’s Safer Than You Think

“I relocated to Mexico in August 2022 without any prior visits or acquaintances in the country, leaving me largely in the dark, aside from clichéd notions of tequila and tacos gleaned from American media. Naturally, my perceptions were colored by skewed portrayals often found in TV and news reports. However, upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised to find an incredibly warm and welcoming nation.

Hailing from South Africa, where safety is a paramount concern, I am particularly mindful of my surroundings and security. Despite this, I’ve never felt threatened or uneasy in my immediate neighborhood of Condesa. I frequently take solo walks and feel at ease, knowing that the kind-heartedness of Mexicans is always near.”

-Sarah, 33, [South African based in] Mexico City

Mexico can be a great opportunity to find yourself and experience something new. (Unsplash)

Forget Your Expectations

“Arrive with an open heart and mind. Try to lose your expectations about what it could and would be and experience it for what it is. Live in the present and learn to slow down. Try your best. 

First, learn the language and then you start to understand the culture, and it won’t be so foreign and scary. I’ve been here for 10 years, and Mexico has taught me so much.”

-Michelle, 34, [American based in] San Cristóbal de las Casas

Embrace the Challenges

“Living in Mexico is not the same as being on vacation here, and it’s not like living north of the border; comparing life here to life in your country doesn’t help. Learn to love all that Mexico has to offer. I first moved here 27 years ago, and I’m still challenged each day. It keeps me on my toes and feeling young. Mexico is not for everyone, but I would not want to live anywhere else.”

 -Maria, 77, [American based in] Zihuatanejo

Learn the Language

Learn Spanish because it will change your experience in a phenomenal way. I spent a couple of years in an expat community, from 1996-1998, and hung out with only Americans and Canadians. Learned poquito español. Now I live in a non-tourist city and, after eight years, my Spanish is pretty good. I’m 76, so anybody younger can learn a lot faster. Besides, the depth of the friendships you can make with Mexicans… helps in navigating all the stuff in life that comes up.

Looking back, it would’ve been better if I had taken learning Spanish far more seriously early on.”

-Barbra, 76, [American based in] Aguascalientes

Explore Before You Commit

“Don’t make plans, sign a lease or settle down in a place based on what you’ve read or seen on travel sites and Instagram. Move around if you can and see how different places feel. Mexico is huge, and the beaches feel so different from the mountain towns, which also feel different from the cities. But it’s also the people who make the places [what they are] … maybe you make a few friends and discover your happy place in a location you never would have expected.” 

-Jess, 29, [Canadian based in] Mazunte

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Explore all that Mexico has to offer. (Shutterstock)

Travel Far and Wide

“The beauty and diversity of the country surprised and delighted me. I came here for a job but have been lucky enough to see so many amazing places during my years here, from the surreal Xilitla to the stunning Hierve De Agua (and the crazy drive you take to get there). 

I can’t recommend enough exploring beyond the cliched destinations and embracing the country’s cultural wealth, warm people and amazing landscapes.”

-Kate, 37, [Brit based in] Puerto Vallarta

Understand the Cost of Living

“Most North Americans think of Mexico as inexpensive, but the cost of living varies wildly!

The cost of rent, bills and transport in bigger cities and fancy beach towns, like Mexico City or Playa del Carmen, can cost almost as much as living in Canada – especially if you develop a taste for good restaurants and nightlife. Choosing a more local city or rural town – even a gorgeous beach town – can cut your costs by half, and people tend to be friendlier.

If you can accept the slow pace of life, you’ll find absolute paradise.” 

-Joana, 43, [Canadian based in] Oaxaca City 

Just Do It

“What I love about Mexico is not just one thing, it’s a combination of all of them.

You can take your pick of weather, climate and geography. There are mountain ranges, valleys, deserts, jungles, tropical forests, coastlines, cenotes and more. For food, you can choose from fresh seafood, vegetables, meats, farm products, salsas, tortillas and more. Different regions offer different seasonings, varieties of tacos and food for every palate.

As far as the people, how much time do you have? I can’t say enough about people’s warmth, open arms, genuine ways and kindness shown through manners, sharing food and more. 

My advice is DO IT! What are you waiting for?” 

-Marel, 59, Nomadic [American based in different places around Mexico]  

Laurel is a nomadic lifestyle journalist whose favorite stories focus on weird and wonderful travel and culture. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Vice, BBC Travel, Travel + Leisure, South China Morning Post, The Culture Trip and more. @laureltuohy.


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